TEPID TAKE: The Olympics and NHL Are Better Off Without Each Other

Photo via Getty Images/Olympics.com

Juraj Slafkovsky being named MVP of the Olympics and having the focus put onto him is one of the reasons why the NHL doesn’t need to be in the Olympics. Not only does it give other players a chance to shine, but it allows broadcasts to focus on players who may or may not been given the platform if the NHLers were there to take the focus for themselves.

The last two Olympics have had their ups and down. The European nations have stepped up in a big way, especially those who don’t rely on NHL players to begin with. If the NHLers were to play, who’s to say you have same great stories like you did with Germany in 2018 and Slovakia in these Games?? Those moments for those nations may not have even happened and then pundits perhaps start to rip on the Olympics even having those nations be able to participate because they can’t produce NHLers the way that Russia, Sweden, Canada, the US, and Finland do– so why even include them except to be a whipping boy for those countries??

Personally, the disruption of the NHL season is something that annoys me. Sure, the time of some games are bad, as are the idea of injuries in the Olympics that would affect the season. But going to the Olympics games just breaking up the NHL season for the hell of it kills any momentum teams might have that could actually get them in the playoffs. The NHL is the only major North American league to stop their league for the Olympics. MLB didn’t allow their players on 40-man rosters to play in the 2021 Games due to the threat of injury that could cost teams money if their top players go down and for shutting down the league for two weeks. Which, as the pandemic still rears its head now and again, is a costly measure as it is with local regulations.

Hence, that’s why MLB has the World Baseball Classic and why the NHL has the World Cup of Hockey. Yeah, it’s not for Olympic gold, but you’re representing your country off of the season schedule– so it’s fine. Everything’s fine. It’s not that the International Olympic Committee screws them over for media rights and insurance money or any of that…not at all.

One way to really spice up the hockey in the Olympics if the NHL doesn’t go and people don’t want to send journeymen– make the World Juniors the Olympics every four years. It’s akin to Olympic soccer, which is under-23, and it would make those who are really geeked about their team’s prospects coming up and how they fit on the world stage. Sure, the tournament is mainly a big money maker for Hockey Canada hosting the even every other year, so they won’t like losing that profit– but given the option of seeing that versus the journeymen players we have seen in the past two Games; it could provide a faster game.

The talk of people saying the Olympics needs to be the best taking on the best– but then looking back and speaking fondly about the 1980 US Olympic team– is just noise to me. I don’t need the NHL to be in the Olympics. I have TNT and ESPN+. I can see the best play against the best every night if I wanted. There’s no need for the NHL to be in the Olympics aside from fueling their own egos in thinking that the NHL is the end-all, be-all when it comes to hockey and that if they’re not in it– no one will care about hockey. You know, like how the Hockey Hall of Fame has pretty much turned into the NHL Hall of Fame.

Big League Dogs to Small Town Pond??

Where will this couple go if the Coyotes can’t get into Tempe/ Photo via Arizona Coyotes

We’re well aware the issues with the Arizona Coyotes over the better part of a decade now. It’s been added to thanks to the story about possibly sharing the new rink built for the Arizona State hockey team while they await their arena in Tempe to be build.

You know– the arena they don’t actually have yet but how the hell could they lose to themselves since they were the only bidder for the grounds that Tempe put out there– oh wait, they are losing out on it due to lack of support form the city.

Some of the uproar about the move varies from the arena being very small for NHL standards to people pointing out the effort the NHL has put in to keeping the team in the area through all the ownership issues and money problems. To which, I can see their point. First, the new Arizona State arena only is slated to hold 5,000 people in there. Fun fact– only two AHL arenas (Utica and Belleville), two ECHL teams (Glen Falls and Trois-Rivieres), and two SPHL arenas (Vermilion County and Birmingham) hold less than the new arena. Optics don’t look at this too kindly for a top-level NHL team.

Secondly, the NHL has gone all out to try and make the Coyotes works in Arizona– rightly or wrongly. The owners have come and gone from this franchise, all citing being in Glendale as the reason for their shortcomings in the stands. While that could be true, Glendale has over 250,000 people living there so it’s not like it’s some out of the way hamlet with no people– hell, it’s even considered part of the Phoenix-metro area that consist of almost five-million people. You’d have to think there’s some kind of marketing scheme that’d be able to get 17,000 people into Gila River Arena on a gamely basis.

The debate about trying to keep the Nordiques, original Jets, and North Stars in their area could rage on forever– but at the time you could see the NHL’s strategy in order to boost league revenues and interests beyond the markets they were in– Quebec City and Winnipeg being the two smallest at the time. That said, the NHL has been consistent in trying to keep teams in their current markets– Pittsburgh, Edmonton, Ottawa, Buffalo, Nashville– they’ve all had the NHL intervene with finding owners to keep the team in the area or being the medium to bridge a gap for a new arena– looking at you next, Calgary. So, the fight they are putting up now with the Coyotes (and have been since 2008) is consistent with what they have been doing– so I’m not shocked.

For me, the biggest play will be what happens if the Arizona State deal does work and the Coyotes actually do get granted the land to build in Tempe. Since Gila River is no longer an option since the Coyotes will get the boot after this season and it’ll be 3-4 years before any new arena will be done; owners and players probably aren’t going to be too happy with a team playing in that small of an arena. Will it be a ruckus crowd?? Perhaps, if the ticket prices are right– hell, you get enough die-hards into that building; it might be the toughest place to play by year two.

Of course, that’s if everything were to go to plan and the history of the Coyotes dictates that there’s always going to be a wrench thrown in there. All the while, people in Houston get their hopes up and lick their lips at the possibility of getting this team in their area– an area I’m sure the NHL owners would love to be in.

While this does suck for fans of the Coyotes and it drains the nerves of other fans– you can’t deny how interesting and entertaining from the outside this really is. For 14 years it’s been a “will they, won’t they” situation and has amused me for that time span. Wherever the cards may fall– this could be the final season of it and we should enjoy it while we can because stability will ruin this whole bit.

On The Topic Of Olympic Hockey Without the NHL

I am glad the NHL isn’t going to the Olympics. Since 1998, I don’t think I’ve ever bought into the whole “best vs. the best” ideal because if they’re the best and they’re playing in the NHL…aren’t we getting that on a nightly basis?? Can’t they do that at the World Championships??

However, there are some people– maybe rightfully so– annoyed with the NHL not going. Pavel Bure went so far in saying that the NHL doesn’t care about growing the game of hockey, they’re only caring about their league business.

While I can understand what Bure is trying to get at, it’s not just the NHL’s burden to carry in growing the sport. They are the most recognizable league for sure, but in the world we live in today; the interest in hockey can be taken in by anyone with an internet connection and the desire to watch the NHL or any other hockey for that matter. Other than maybe a passing bump post-Olympics, the idea it would create a boom for hockey just because the NHL is there never really jived with me overall. Always seemed like the NHLPA used it as the possibility of a huge ratings bump when it doesn’t seem to happen.

The Olympics have never really benefited the NHL, aside from the players being associated with the league. They don’t have any media rights to the coverage, they can’t use any photos or videos to help promote, and it turns an already long season into even more of a marathon. Luckily, this season; the perfect storm of COVID cases, the Games being in China (which many North American fans wouldn’t tune in live to watch games), and the threat of a five-week quarantine if someone were to test positive gave the NHL and NHLPA the no-brainer decision on skipping out of this one.

And, like I said before– I’m glad they’re not. The 2018 Games were fun with the plucky German crew having a couple big upsets on their way to Silver, the Olympic Athletes from Russia taking home their first goal medal as the OAR and the first for that area of the world since the Unified Team won it in 1992. It showcased players like Kirll Kaprizov before he made it to the NHL, while also bringing older players that many may have forgotten to take part– allowing them to live their dream that they may have thought as being impossible due to the NHLers going out for the Olympics. The Hockey News’ Steven Ellis wrote about it better than I’m putting out there.

One point I will bow to is the one that non-traditional hockey nations can benefit from being on the same ice as NHLers from more developed hockey nations. You could argue that Italy’s entry in 2006 help that country grow a little in terms of having more competitive hockey despite some the team being from Canada. The South Koreans were gearing up as if they were going to face NHLers for 2018 before it didn’t happen. Teams like Germany, Norway, Belarus, Slovenia have been matured on the big stage, as well. Hell, they almost ousted the host nation because they didn’t know if they’d be embarrassed or not against NHLers for this one.

The NHL’s participation is not the end-all, be-all for men’s hockey. Hey, who knows– the Games as a whole could be pushed back a year and then the NHL can get back into it. It has happened before and could happen again for this. Even then, I’ll still stand by my thought that the NHL and the Olympics are better off for not crossing the streams for the near future.

NHL Adding Jersey Sponsors, Revenue in 2022-23

Reports on Tuesday stated that the NHL will put ads on jersey starting in the 2022-23 season and thank goodness this dance is over. Thankfully, the NHL has come to its senses and realized that ads are not a bad thing and that they’ll just be following in the footsteps of most hockey leagues domestic and internationally by getting ads on the jerseys.

This has been teased for a while with every Chicken Little hockey fans proclaiming the sky is falling at every mention of it. Well, we’ll see how they hold up with it becoming a reality. Everyone claims purity of the sport, but that died when they started using aluminum sticks and goalies started to cosplay as the Stay-Puft Marshmallow man. It’s about revenues, baybee, it’s about getting that salary cap up, baybee. They already have the sponsors on the practice jerseys, think of the money they could get for game jerseys.

It’s not greed, it’s capitalism, baybee, let’s go!!!

But seriously, this isn’t bad. This isn’t like a player going out to get their own sponsors to look like a NASCAR driver– though that’d be pretty awesome. It’s about activating more partnerships, getting money with the gates being down due to the pandemic that’s currently going on, and it’s about catching up with other sports leagues.

I can’t say with certainty, but I highly doubt the league would allow a sponsor to overwhelm a team logo, much like club soccer over in Europe. That’s not good for team branding and the NHL is all about that. The league will have parameters about contracts with sponsors and hopefully vet those sponsors; much like they did with the helmet ads. Plus, they don’t want to have teams switch sponsors year-in and year-out; though it would be a boom for the jersey industry.

To me, people who boycott the league for jersey ads are only using it as an excuse for not getting out of it earlier for much more heinous things that the NHL and their member teams haven’t addressed– either in part or as a whole.

The sun will come out tomorrow. Your team should have still shouldn’t have gotten rid of that one guy. Your team will still be one piece a way form a Cup. They’ll just have a little extra weight on their upper torso.

Twenty

August 8th, 2001 marked the first Face Off Hockey Show. Known just as “Face-Off,” it was a streaming radio show that pre-dates the iPod by two-and-a-half months– which is why we didn’t call it a podcast. It was a show that streamed live and thanks to code and all of that– it was made available as an on-demand stream. It was kind of ahead of its time.

If you were to tell me then that this show would still be going two decades later, I’d be a little apprehensive. At that time, Marc and I were both about to head to college, while Jon had a career already, and Sean was running the streaming business that hosted our show. At any time it could have just fell by the wayside because of life getting in the way. Hell, I moved to another country three years into the show, so needed to adjust and adapt to that was a big deal.

But we did just that. From VOIP phones to cell phone cards to Excalibur boxes, to then Hangouts On Air and now Skype– we’ve found a way to do a show every Wednesday (give or take two or three) from 2001 until the present. It’s been a way for us to keep in touch, it’s been a way for us to get/keep our names relevant in the hockey landscape, and it’s allowed up opportunities we might not have otherwise have taken. Granted, Sean has gotten plenty on his plate nowadays and really dropped off for a bit; the Pitzes and I have kept this train a-rollin’.

When you look at the 20 years or work we’ve done and the places we’ve been; the question that may come up and one that I always have is whether or not we feel we should be bigger in terms of popularity than what we have now??

Personally (since I don’t know what the Pitzes think), I do think we should be bigger. That’s easy to say when there’s a bias in it, but I mean– we’ve put in the work, the longevity, know some of the right people– but the wide-spread notoriety hasn’t happened for us. While that sucks, the core group of people who enjoy us seem to enjoy us a lot. Having that “underground” fan base is pretty cool and I love them to death. I just wish more people enjoyed us how our fans have enjoyed us.

We don’t play the game well. We never wanted to be the fake persona on the podcast or any kind of online presence just to be in the good graces of people. We know who we like, we want to talk to people who we like, and it’s kind of easy for us to pick up the people who might be great in some capacity in their own online bubble; but are people I personally don’t think I could be fake for if they were to come on the show. We know the people we gel with on the show and that’s why they’re a constant for us. But we also know who we wouldn’t gel with and I wouldn’t want to do a forced interview just to get listeners from their portfolio.

Another way we don’t play the game well is that we don’t mesh with the NHL ideology. That was never more noticeable when Jen (NHL History Girl) introduced me to former senior VP of communications for the league, Frank Brown, and to get the response of an icy cold stare and a “I know who you are” as a response to my introduction…pretty much shows why we as Face Off Hockey Show rarely get NHL credentials under the show name. The show hasn’t been credentialed since 2017. No reason why, no real idea why– but it is what it is now, I suppose.

Granted, I’m sure a lot of other bloggers and podcasts have been treated the same way. After the big internet boom of the late ’00s, early ’10s; the NHL has had to be picky and choosy about who gets what and where. Add that to everyone old beat writer joining The Athletic and doubling the coverage by team beats because of it– if you don’t have a big status; you’re not going to get into the show.

In any case, we still soldier onward. This show has been great for me to stay in touch with my friends back home every week and make me play pretend radio guy as a hobby for the past two decades. This has been a great time for me and I hope it continues for many more years to come. We have a great relationship with the Maryland Black Bears of the NAHL, a solid relationship with the University of North Dakota, and made some pretty long-term friends/fans out of this whole thing. For me, someone who wanted to get into media since I was a teenager, I couldn’t think of a better time than these past 20 years.

Take care of yourself and someone else.

Mock (YEAH) Expansion (YEAH) Draft (YEAH)

The day that we all were waiting for is finally here– probably the last Expansion Draft of our lifetimes in the Seattle Kraken. For myself, I ran through plenty of mock drafts– mostly for shits and giggles and with not much real logic thrown into some of these picks. It’s really what I want to happen rather than what I think will happen.

The first draft was for the June 30th show of Face Off Hockey Show, when we all did drafts and NBC’s Sean Leahy judged them– mostly siding with Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey because those media elites stick together. For me, the big pick was PK Subban going to the Kraken because they needed a face to the organization and he is going to a contract year which he’ll probably do all he can in order to get a last contract.

I only made a second draft because the news of Carey Price being left unprotected in this draft was put out there. Sure, a lot of injury concerns coupled with an $11M bonus in September aside– why wouldn’t want to pick a goalie and build from the net out??

After talking myself out of it and plenty of free time to do it– a third draft pick was in there. For the Price draft, I had to get rid of Subban on there, but he’s definitely on there now with Price not in the picture for the third draft.

My final pick is what I’m going with. It’s without Price, and tweaks here and there.

It was a fun thing to do. This is something I’m not going to take seriously because I’m not getting paid to take it seriously. I’m not getting paid personally at all– just through the FOHS Patreon and that mostly goes to show things. So, sit back, enjoy the show tonight– should be a hoot.

Tepid Take: Somehow, Pierre McGuire Got His Front Office Gig

It’s taken a minute, but the Pierre McGuire news has calmed down a bit– so thanks to the wonders of having a day-job, my take is beyond late. Hence, a Tepid Take scenario. People were dumbfounded bu this move of Pierre McGuire going to the Ottawa Senators as Senior VP of Player Development. Many mocked the Senators for this move, many Sens fans were severely distraught, some Senators loyalist/media people are wondering who let the peanut gallery have a voice on who is and isn’t a good hire.

When it comes to this move…I’m optimistically skeptical. It’s a deal that would work out big, it could be a deal that works out horrible. There’s a lot of me who leans towards the latter outcome, but there’s some shimmer of hope that because the Senators haven’t been the best over the last couple years, this could be some kind of move that could turn the ship around…or not.

The only comparison I liken this to is when Tampa Bay hired Barry Melrose during his ESPN stint. Melrose was away from coaching and on TV for 13 years, coached in 16 games– in which he didn’t like Steven Stamkos being on the roster apparently– then he went back to the booth. McGuire could have that same fate, but at the same time– he might have a longer leash not being in the direct public eye.

For the gimmick that McGuire plays, he does know the players and prospects. The character of Pierre is over-the-top to a fault and trying to let people know where a player grew up– even if it’s hokey as all hell. But when you listen to him in other interviews out of character; he’s more toned down, more direct to his point, and does know how the game was played. And there’s a reason why I put a past tense there.

I make no secret that I’m not a big analytics guy as personal preference.I can see some of the points for its use in the game, but I’m not an overly math guy for fun. My day job throws enough numbers at me that my leisure time, I don’t want to be bogged down in equations and such. This, however, is McGuire’s job and whether or not he embraces the new way hockey is scouted will probably determine his tenure and legacy as front office guy.

During his media car-wash, he quote was “It’s not that I hate analytics, it’s that I believe in scouting. I don’t hate analytics. I think it’s a tool that can be utilized in any kind of scouting, but I’m a big believer in boots-on-the-ground scouting.” Daps and head-taps to Stephen Whyno on the transcription.

The whole “old school hockey guy” is dying out and McGuire could be what fully kills it if he messes this up. I understand his whole ideal of the “eye test” when it comes to scouting and maybe some analytics aren’t up his alley– but that’s the way it is now and you either adapt or go back to the booth. The key to McGuire is whether he completely dismisses analytics out-of-hand; which is a big mistake these days. Sure, there’s analytic darlings of the past who didn’t amount to much but folk-hero status; but that side of things could make or break a person in the player development role if they sign a guy for big bucks who passed the eye-test, but couldn’t hold up in certain situations on the ice.

While people dance on the grave of the NBC muppet going to the front office, it’ll be very interesting to keep track on the make-up of the Senators going forward. Maybe Eugene Melnyk is going all “Major League” on this team and hiring the worst possible people to sell the team and have it move somewhere else. It almost seems that way on the surface.

Another Turn in the Jack Eichel/Sabres’ Saga

Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Last February, I talked about Jack Eichel needing to be saved from his loyalty to the Buffalo Sabres. Given his exit interview from the 2020-21 season, he may be willing his way out of Buffalo. The long and short of it, if you didn’t see it all over the place Monday, the Sabres didn’t like the opinion of an outside doctor about Jack Eichel needing surgery on his neck and didn’t sign off on his procedure.

Just a reminder, June 30th, 2022 is the last day that Eichel doesn’t have a modifier on his contract for teams that may want to try and sway Kevyn Adams into a deal.

Even with the grudges and Eichel stating that he’s looking at next season “wherever that may be,” you can’t think he will be traded unless something really drastic occurs. I would say it’s hard for me to think that the Sabres would really trade their captain and one of their homegrown guys– but it’s the Sabres were talking about. They haven’t shown a track record of making the wise decision when it comes to the product they put on the ice and how they portray the team off of it.

Though they came around when it came to their on-ice performance after the firing of Ralph Krueger, it didn’t make up for the trials and tribulations they had to endure at the start of the season. Maybe Don Granato is the guy that, given a full season, could be the thing that turned Eichel around when it comes to the Sabres actually improving. But, again, when you have your captain upset with the way his health was handled after he seems overly frustrated with how they haven’t seen the playoffs since he’s been with the team– loyalty can only go so far when something like this happens.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Kraken have no assets to give back to the Sabres or else they’d be able to pull off a huge coup in trading for the Buffalo captain and making him their first player in franchise history. But that’s not likely the case. Plus, a $10M cap hit for the next five years in a flat-cap era doesn’t leave many contenders on the board that would make sense in actually picking up Eichel. Of course, if the the right offer comes along for the Sabres and they are better off in the future from the deal– they’ve got until next June to wheel that deal before Eichel has some say in where he wants to be moved, should that time come.

It’s getting worse before it’s getting better. That sucks for Sabres fans, who are beyond loyal regardless of how they are seemingly treated by the organization they love. If they were to trade Eichel, that could be the last straw for the fans who have held on for dear life to this team, despite their faults from the past.

An Open Letter to Turner Sports

To the Executives of Turner Sports,

Hey there– I’m Scott Wasilewski, AKA Scotty Wazz. Over the last 19.5 years, I’ve been podcasting about hockey on Face Off Hockey Show. Much more than hockey, it’s a show about life with three hosts who’ve grown up together in life and in the broadcasting world.

Look, I could spout off numbers about how we’re in the top-20 all-time of hockey podcasts on Apple Podcasts or all the events we’ve been a part of whether it be with the NHL, AHL, ECHL, WHL, NAHL, or IIHF. I could tell you I’ve personally have written for FHM Magazine or had articles published on Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog in its heyday. But honestly, what does that do other than being self-serving and egotistical.

Let’s get down to brass tacks– we need each other.

You might not know it, but there’s a lot of recycled voices out there in hockey. If it’s not recycled, there’s a lot of parrots out there in the hockey community. Face Off Hockey Show doesn’t have that….okay, we might recycle jokes to death, but that’s a different meeting for a different time. The point is that our outside-the-box points-of-view is something we use to differentiate ourselves from the rest of the other voices out there in the loud landscape. On top of that, our crew all were born in Maryland– an nontraditional hockey market. Turner Sports is, to some, an nontraditional hockey broadcast partner.

With your company starting fresh in the NHL broadcasting landscape, what better way to do it than with some fresh voices on the network?? Not only that, but you look at the chemistry of Ernie, Kenny, Chuck, and Shaq on your NBA property– I’m not saying we’d be that by any means– but we could bring that energy, analyst, and light-hearted banter that people can relate to.

There’s a unique opportunity, TS– can I call you TS?? No?? Okay, Turner Sports overlords. This is a chance to give a different look to normally mundane hockey broadcasts or presentation of the game above the dull, robotic, run-of-the-mill stuff we already get from the game. Plus, it’s a big chance to revamp what the broadcast could look and sound like with this new seven year deal.

ABBA said it best when they said, “You can dance, you can jive…”

Wait…no, that’s not it. Whatever the lyrics from “Take a Chance On Me” that would be poignant in this situation– that’s what I’m going for here.

The point is this– we’ve been at this for a while now. We have the credentials to show for it. All we need now is the backing to prove to the masses what we’ve proved to our loyal listeners/watchers/readers for decades now. Fresh faces, fresh network, fresh presentations. And maybe this is a time for a fan-centric angle to be at the table of some of these broadcasts and be a different voice in the room.

Feel free to slide into my DMs to chat some more.

Take care of yourself and someone else: Scotty Wazz

PS: My co-host Jon Pitonzo and I are big AEW fans as well, so– if that helps any….

NHL and ESPN Are Together Again

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, NHL fans may be getting what they want with ESPN signing a new deal with the NHL to become on of their media partners starting next season. ESPN will get rights to four Stanley Cup Finals between 2022 and 2028 and streaming rights to the league. The NHL and NBC deal ends at the end of this season and plenty of people were clamoring for the NHL to go elsewhere. It may look like they’ve partial gotten their wish.

The NHL hasn’t been a regular entity on ESPN’s family of networks since 2004, they have had games on ESPN+ over the past couple of seasons, as well as beefing up their coverage of hockey thanks to the work of Emily Kaplan and Greg Wyshynski, as well as Chris Peters– who was let go from ESPN during the pandemic. With NBC Sports Network going dark in lieu of PeacockTV, it only makes sense that ESPN would pick up the lead in this for the TV side.

While this does seem like a step in the right direction, the issue remains whether or not it’ll tip the scales all that much and if we’ll actually get a change in the teams being broadcasted. The biggest issue when the NHL spurred ESPN for the old Outdoor Life Network was because ESPN didn’t see the NHL as a money making entity and low-balled them on a new deal. Has that sentiment changed at all?? Maybe. Honestly, though, I don’t see the NHL getting as much screen time on a network that is jammed up with other, more profitable for the network sports.

It would be great to have the ESPN talking heads be all about the NHL and yell and bitch on their overpaid showcases of hot takes that mimic a talk show– but I don’t see that happening. If nothing else, the NHL gets more exposure due to the notoriety that ESPN has over other sports networks. That said, I don’t see it really tipping the needle in terms of exposure to the sports for people since the NHL will move to fourth on the depth chart of sports over the defacto top spot they had on NBCSN. Granted, it was the NHL or Meecum Auctions, so the competition of the networks wasn’t that stiff.

Yet, when you think about it– the numbers could be slightly better just due to reach, but outside of that– who knows what that could bring. You have to think that an NHL Tonight type show will be around; but outside of that– what’s it going to take for people to notice the NHL on ESPN?? More importantly– how long before NHL fans bitch about not receive the coverage they think they should get on the World Wide Leader??

In the grand scheme, this is an upward move– how can it not be?? ESPN is everywhere and they have a multitude of platforms on the TV side that people can get to on cable and whatnot. Streaming rights are what they are, which makes me wonder if things don’t go swimmingly or other leagues start to demand more, if that was a safety net installed to put the NHL on ESPN+ when all is said and done and only use ESPN or ESPN2 for the bigger events. This also doesn’t account for who the other partner would be for the other half of the NHL rights and how those two will co-exist.

But for not, strike up the National Hockey Night theme and relive the good-old days of hockey on ESPN.